The World Becomes (More) Familiar

February 7, 2019

The world is getting smaller.


Not in actuality of course. But in my sense of the familiar.


I recognize the Chicago bean scrolling through my Instagram feed. I remember the first time, grinning and jumping- catching a glimpse of myself - loopy and slightly distorted but full of joy.


The second time.


Watching a ballet dancer record a YouTube routine. She was alone, her camera set on the ground, leaping and stretching in the quiet of the early morning.  The third time- the third time I just imagined it, spending my time in Chicago looking across a frozen lake, posing in the 7 degree weather (wearing the wrong pants). The piles of snow, impossible for a Texan to to comprehend, growing all around me.





This time its Glenwood Hot Springs, deep in Colorado-  arms around each other or smiling coyly at the camera “Of course I always post like this when it is freezing outside, “ legs in the 104 degree water, shoulders exposed to the snow. I was there. I breathed the misty air tinged with sulphur. I looked at the stunning white capped mountains in the distance and saw the sun, tinged with pink slip below the edge. I read my book (because silence was too loud), careful not to soak the pages (I failed), and moved back in between the regular hot springs and the *hot* hot springs, timing my movements (every 5 minutes, as they suggested.) Every picture of you there, its also me.



The couples grinning and hugging each other close on the edge of the Grand Canyon. The hikers taking their first tentative steps off the edge. (I did that, but only for a minute, only once.)


The canyon, a wide open mouth, so deep, raw around the edges, so far you can barely see.  Calling you closer, closer. Or in my case, farther away. On tiptoes, wanting to see, but from as far back as I could.  




When I see images of Yellowstone National park, Old Faithful spewing itself high into the sky  (remembering the time we bundled up, and watched it in the dark, surrounded by other huddled tourists. All silent, all in awe), I am transported. Or to the quiet night in an Amtrak observation car, deep in the dark- dark like you have never known, as it chugs through states I would never recognize.  Or the snowy streets of Park City, Utah, the multicolored houses on the side of the mountain-- a beautiful painting.



The union station in Denver feels familiar. I wandered these streets- twice actually, and power walked to the top of the hill, and explored the homey bookstores, and spun around widely in the streetlight outside my hotel as the first snow fell.


Each picture of swirling copper hues brings me to Antelope Canyon, deep in Page, Arizona,  I’m following our tour guide around in circles, running my hand over ancient rock, feeling the dirt fall away, or leaning into a smooth wall, catching the light from above.


The glittering lights of Las Vegas- I know them too. I gambled (cheaply) in that casino, around the corner from our hotel, and took photos with every instagrammable moment the Venetian has to offer. The love sculpture, the painted ceiling, the street musicians performing acts surrounded by diners and glittering lights.


I am a Sagittarius. I believe in it too. Not an extraordinary amount, but just enough. The key feature of being a Sagittarius is a love of travel. I used to skip over this part of my horoscope. Not me I thought. Travel brings with it the fear of the  unknown, the multitude of things that could go wrong (and believe me, I have been there!) Unfamiliar places, and getting lost, and feeling out of place.


But also the joy, in the unfamiliar, but also the familiar- the places I return to. The moments I grasp on to. When I get myself, sometimes impossibly, out of a strange situation and into a better one. The hundreds and thousands of pictures- taken to reflect on a specific moment in time. I am stretching. I am expanding. And all around me, more to see. More to make familiar. Much more.



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